Podcast Episode 30. It is possible to create a viable business while employing people with additional needs and this week’s podcast guest proves that. Nick O’Shea is the founder of Ignition Brewery in London, a successful business employing people with additional needs. At Ignition Brewery it’s all about the beer because as Nick has found his customers don’t mind who’s making the beer as long as it tastes good!

Nick’s journey started whilst he was a regular volunteer at a UK charities event (Mencap’s Tuesday Club) – where people with additional needs meet to socialise. He noticed that most of the people he talked to there wanted 2 things a relationship and a job. Nick didn’t want to start a matchmaking service so he decided to find a way to employ people with additional needs. He looked for a business which was labour-intensive and had repetitive tasks which would suit the people he would eventually employ, but that would also lead to an economically viable business. Ignition Brewery was the result.

Nick explains it has not been without its challenges. It took six months to find a suitable place to brew. When they first started brewing they brewed about 20 batches of beer, some of it was good and some of it was bad! Currently they bottle around 1000 bottles a week. They plan to double that in the near future. They supply local pubs, restaurants and sell at local events as well.

One area Nick talked about was his suprise at the lack of support from other orgnisations involved in the care of people with addtional needs He believes there is more of a focus on providing palliative care and a lack of care based on developing people and allowing them to move on and achieve more with their life.

We also discuss the future plans which include a bar which will create more employment opportunities. As Nick points out technological advances, such as contactless payments, mean that more service jobs are now a reality for people with additional needs.

While Ignition might be based in London the model could be replicated, could be used in other communities and for other types of businesses. This is all about what people CAN do not whether they have additional needs or not.